It’s college rankings season! And what a crowded season it is, with some relatively new competitors in the mix. I’d like to add just one more to this collection of scholastic listicles: the top colleges for producing graduates who make the world a better place.
PayScale, which collects self-reported salary information, has just come out with updated data on median salaries earned by graduates of hundreds of colleges. But to those who worry that reducing the value of a college education to financial returns, you might be interested in another question PayScale asked respondents: “Does your work make the world a better place?” The answer choices were “Very much so,” “Yes,” “A little,” “No,” and “My job may make the world a worse place.”
Here are the 10 colleges whose grads were most likely to say “very much so” or “yes” (which PayScales categorizes as people with “high job meaning”):
|School Name||Mid-Career Median Pay||% with High Job Meaning|
|Loma Linda University||$80,000||91%|
|Medical College of Georgia||$70,100||88%|
|University of Texas – Medical Branch (UTMB)||$89,000||88%|
|Thomas Jefferson University||$83,000||86%|
|Gwynedd Mercy University||$66,600||85%|
|Trident University International||$62,300||82%|
|The University of Texas (UT) – Health Science Center at San Antonio||$80,500||82%|
|Long Island University – Brooklyn||$88,800||80%|
Some patterns emerge from this ranking. Many of the schools are religiously-affiliated (like Loma Linda University, a Seventh-day Adventist school, and Viterbo University, a Roman Catholic school). Many are also focused on nursing and other health-related fields. And health-related majors more generally tend to produce graduates who believe they are improving mankind, according to PayScale’s 2013 data:
The percentage of graduates with a specific major who reported that their job makes the world a better place. See full methodology.
As with any ranking that focuses on outcomes (including salaries), what we really want to know is how much the initial inputs differed.
Most likely the kinds of students who enrolled at Loma Linda University are different than the kinds of students who enrolled at other schools, and might have ended up in careers they viewed as world-improving even if they had matriculated elsewhere. The question is, to what extent do certain colleges nudge impressionable students into — or away from — fields that make the world a better place? This kind of question results in a lot of soul-searching (and the occasional lawsuit) at some elite colleges, which preach world-betterment but end up shuttling students into lucrative careers that don’t seem to have much of a public-service component.
Of course, there are some career paths — mostly in the doctors category — that offer both high pay and high psychic rewards. And if you’re a believer in the invisible-hand theory of things, pretty much any self-interested effort is, arguably, world-improving.